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Your pool, your sanctuary

Long summer days meld lazily with cooling backyard pools to produce the idyllic home lifestyle for today’s modern alfresco homes.

Pools have now become even more of a focal point in the rear landscaping of new homes. As they take up a significant part of our ever-decreasing blocks, it is essential that the preferred pool is attractive and well-designed.

Concept Pools is an Australian-owned company, which has operated since 1981. The company has won many awards from SPASA (Swimming Pool and Spa Association of NSW) and the Master Builders Association of NSW. Most recently, Concept Pools won the 2009 SPASA Gold award for Pools in the $50,000 to $100,000 category.

According to Concept Pools owner, John Curry, he often designs pools to be viewed from within the home, often through a frameless-glass pool fence, so the pool surrounds must connect well with the building.

“Many of the pool’s features are chosen to tie in with the alfresco area of the house, especially water features,” said John. “We design and construct the pool with consideration to the overall usage of the outdoor space.”

Concept Pools’ fully-integrated approach to pool building offers many advantages to clients. At the initial meeting with the client, John conducts a site analysis and guides an in-depth discussion to ascertain their specific requirements. Together they review the different alternatives for the shape of the pool, its location and the finishes.

“Often pools are built and the landscape must be constructed around it, whereas we seek to fully utilise the available space without impacting other zones such as children’s play areas, pets and other outdoor activities,” said John. “We also seek to incorporate as much of the surrounding landscape like views and bushland into the pool design.”

“Common construction challenges are based around access to the site, very steeply sloping sites and the presence of rock,” he said.

The average price for a new pool starts at around $30,000 to 40,000 with everything included for a normal sized pool of 9m x 4.5m. A lot depends on the type of block, whether there are any services which need to be taken into account, if special features have been chosen such as waterfalls and jets, and the types of finishes that the client requires.

pool Concept Pools creates all styles of in-ground pools. Approximately 75 per cent of the company’s clients are building a new home with the most popular designs incorporating waterfalls and other features such as wading or beach areas and fully integrated spas.

A professionally designed and built pool can make an ordinary home extraordinary by giving an extra dimension to the recreation activities available to the home owner. “Pools which are integrated into the home’s architecture and landscape design do add value both in terms of re-sale and in immediate amenity to the owners,” said John.

Trend update

  • Shape: There is a movement away from freeform pools, except in very natural settings. Kidney-shaped pools, particularly, are now out-of-fashion with the prevalence of more formal designs. Freeform pools also tend to take up useable space, whereas rectangles are more applicable to modern day backyards. The move away from small unit paving to large units of up to 500mm square is also a driving factor in the design of ‘rectilinear’ shapes.

  • Water features: Most people choose a simple rectangular pool with a waterfall. About half of Concept Pools’ clients include a water feature. This is generally a sheet-fall style waterfall positioned on a feature wall with a long bench seat placed underneath.

  • Feature walls: Feature walls vary in height according to the size and position of the pool and can double as privacy screens. Heights are usually 1200-1800mm, with lengths anywhere between 3-6m.

  • Finishes: The most common finish for the pool is still a pebble interior with a tiled (generally a deep blue ceramic) waterline band. There are a vast number of tiles on the market that are suitable for pool interiors. Apart from traditional glazed ceramic tiles, glass tiles are becoming very popular. When integrated with lighting, glass tiles can give a dramatic effect to water features. Whilst very expensive, a fully tiled pool is sometimes requested. There are also a number of render finishes and some beautiful glass finishes.

  • Surrounds: Many surrounds include a mixture of material like paving, decking or cobblestones. Often a surround will include a garden box, which gives the designer an opportunity to introduce colour to the pool area.

  • Wet edges: Vanishing or wet edges add a considerable cost to the pool, so it is important that they are designed to take full advantage of views. They can be either straight or curved. Negative edges require a large balance tank to work properly, so this must be taken into account when designing the pool as well as isolation fencing for safety.
    Spas: Only about 10-15 per cent of pools have spas. Most new spas are being set at the same water level as the pool.

  • Lap pools: Lap pools are becoming a type of feature pool, and if space is at a premium, swim jets can be installed to give the same level of exercise. In particular, lap pools take advantage of ‘dead’ areas to the side of the house.

  • Chlorination: Chlorination is now fairly evenly divided between salt and chlorine, with other forms of pool sanitation available, such as ozone filters.

  • Heating: About 25 per cent of pools have heating installed at the building stage. The rest have the pool plumbed to accommodate heating at a later date. Heating can be either gas or electric, as well as solar. The most economical by far is solar, but it does not give instant heat.

  • Cleaning: Most pools incorporate plumbing provision for automatic cleaning systems. The most common is the Polaris or JetVac, but in-floor pop-up systems are becoming more popular in Sydney as they are very efficient and can be used to clean steps as well as floors.

  • Covers: Many pools require blankets as part of BASIX. Generally, clients do not ask for a blanket unless it is a requirement of Council. Pool cover manufacturers generally claim that covers assist in maintaining a higher water temperature as well as keeping the water free from leaf litter.

  • Renovations: Many in-ground reinforced concrete pools installed 30 years ago are still in use today. Often, a client will request a refurbishment of the pool interior, especially if it has an old-fashioned pebblecrete or fiberglass interior. Often upgrades simply involve replacement of equipment but may require installation of a water feature or feature wall. In terms of cost, pool renovations are often just as expensive as building a new pool.

For more information call Home Option Gallery concept pools on (02) 8860 9333 or see Pools and Spas.